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Bellingham Educator Named Teacher of the Year


September 24, 2013

Katie Brown, the English language learner specialist at Shuksan Middle School, was named Washington’s 2014 Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony this afternoon.

On behalf of State Superintendent Randy Dorn, Assistant Superintendent Dan Newell congratulated the nine Regional Teachers of the Year and announced the State Teacher of the Year at EMP Museum. The event was hosted by EMP and the Charles Beresford Company.

Although unable to attend the event, Superintendent Dorn praised the group. “Katie and all the 2014 Teachers of the Year represent all that teachers are doing right in our schools,” he said. “They have the wisdom of experience, but they don’t rest on those laurels. They are constantly adapting to our changing student populations and reinventing education to make sure all our kids have access to a world-class education.”

Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies, and Saxton Bradley, Inc. each donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements for both Ms. Brown and the Regional Teachers of the Year.

Katie has taught at Shuksan for the past 11 years. Two years ago she transitioned into her current role as the ELL Specialist. Teaching came as a bit of a surprise to Katie. She realized that she wanted to be a teacher after several different a-ha moments: volunteering at a high poverty school in college, playing soccer with kids during a Costa Rica study abroad and listening to Alaskan tribal elders teach young people about their history as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

As the ELL Specialist, Katie has implemented a series of very successful ELL family nights where families once hidden in shadows can build community – even across many different languages. In two short years, she has built a program that is admired and respected across her district.

Isabel Meaker, Special Assistant for Family Engagement, praised Katie’s professional attitude. “It is her hard work, dedication and ability to understand different cultures that have made Shuksan a model school for family engagement,” she said. “In a state where student demographics are constantly fluctuating, Katie Brown has set a precedent for other districts to follow.”

Katie has devoted herself to helping her colleagues learn the practice of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol and cheering them on daily. Assistant Principal Janae says Katie’s influence is felt in every classroom at Shuksan. She is quick to call out colleagues’ success. This authentic praise and her use of peer coaching builds confidence and morale. As a result the percent of ELL students passing the Reading MSP is up 20 points in just one year.

Her work has also increased the overall confidence of ELL students. “Every day I go to her classroom for help explaining the things I am learning in other classes,” says student Jose Mejia. “This year I wrote a graphic novel and she helped me understand how to create a story in my head . . . Mrs. Brown motivates us to achieve our goals in school and in life. She does not tell me I can’t do it. She always tells me not to give up.”

Regional winners

Before announcing the State Teacher of the Year, Assistant Superintendent Newell introduced the regional finalists. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession provide professional development for all nine finalists. The Regional Teachers of the Year included:

    Jeffrey Dunn

    Educational Service District 101

    Deer Park School District | Deer Park High School

    Joshua Schlegel

    Educational Service District 105

    Sunnyside School District | Harrison Middle School

    Sheila Stuhlsatz

    Educational Service District 112

    Kalama School District | Kalama Middle and High School

    Laura Currie

    Educational Service District 113

    Olympia School District | Centennial Elementary School

    Eric Samson

    Educational Service District 114

    Central Kitsap School District | Central Kitsap Junior High School

    Amy Abrams

    Puget Sound Educational Service District 121

    Kent School District | Northwood Middle School

    Bernice Hanan

    Educational Service District 123

    Pasco School District | Chiawana High School

    Matthew Brewer

    North Central Educational Service District 171

    Soap Lake School District | Soap High School

Next steps

As the 2014 State Teacher of the Year, Ms. Brown will be considered for national Teacher of the Year, which is awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. President Obama will announce the winner in a special ceremony at the White House in the spring.

As the Washington Teacher of the Year, Ms. Brown will serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession in 2013-14 while maintaining her duties at Shuksan.

The selection committee includes previous state teachers of the year and representatives from the following organizations: the Washington Education Association; Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council; Washington State Parent Teacher Association; the Office of the Governor and the Association of Washington School Principals.

Photos of each of this year’s finalists are posted on the OSPI education awards page:


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